David Cameron welcomes the Queen to Cabinet table

 

The Queen capped her Diamond Jubilee year by becoming the first monarch to attend the Cabinet in more than two centuries.

Surrounded by her ministers she observed part of the weekly meeting after being welcomed to Number 10 by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Topics discussed around the famous table included Afghanistan and the economy.

But the Queen did speak twice - to wish everyone a happy Christmas and to humorously suggest the next Queen's Speech should be on the shorter side.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "The Queen seemed very relaxed, in a very good mood and took an enormous interest in the Cabinet discussion."

He told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "I think people were perhaps more considered in what they say, but nevertheless it was a proper discussion on the general economic situation and the inflation figures and Afghanistan."

At the start of the meeting Mr Cameron congratulated the Queen on her "fantastic" Diamond Jubilee year and said the last monarch to visit the Cabinet was believed to have been George III in 1781.

The Queen's father George VI had met with the Cabinet during the Second World War, he said, but added: "We think the last time a monarch came to the Cabinet was in 1781, during the American War of Independence.

"But I'm happy to report that relations have improved slightly since then."

After his initial remarks, the Prime Minister said they would get on with a "proper Cabinet agenda" starting with an update on parliamentary business by the Chief Whip, Sir George Young.

The Queen, who stayed for around 25 minutes of the 90 minute meeting, was given a gift by the Cabinet - 60 bespoke, hand-finished table mats with images of her official London home Buckingham Palace.

It also made a donation to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, set up as part of the celebrations to mark her 60-year reign.

And the Foreign Office announced a large area of British Antarctica - almost twice the size of the UK - had been named Queen Elizabeth Land.

During the Queen's Downing Street visit the Cabinet posed with the monarch for a group photograph and as ministers laughed at an apparent joke she remained composed staring into the camera.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The Queen was an observer at Cabinet. She did speak on two occasions, the first of which was near the end of discussion on parliamentary business, where, I think it's fair to say, very gently and very humorously, on the section regarding the next Queen's Speech encouraged it to be on the shorter rather than the longer side.

"And then on leaving Cabinet at around 10.45 she wished them all a very happy Christmas."

Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley was the only cabinet member not to attend as he had been "unavoidably delayed," added the spokesman.

During the The World At One interview Mr Pickles dismissed suggestions that the Queen was crossing a constitutional line by attending the Cabinet.

He said: "We are her Cabinet, we operate for her. She was sat in the seat where the Prime Minister traditionally sits and, given it's her Cabinet, she can come any time she wants."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Beverley James: Accounts Payable

£22,000 - £23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking for the opportunity to work...

Beverley James: Accounts Assistant

£30,000: Beverley James: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a person looki...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower